If you have arthritis, you know what it’s like to live with daily pain. At night, though, you hope to get the restful, restorative sleep needed to relieve some of that arthritis pain. But the opposite is often true.
Chronic pain, like the pain you feel with arthritis, can actually make it more difficult to sleep. In fact, 80% of people with this condition don’t get enough shut-eye at night. The lack of sleep makes your pain worse, and you’re stuck in a vicious cycle of significant pain and fitful nights.
Dr. John Bassell and the team here at Nebben Physical Medicine in Clarksville, Tennessee, understand how important sleep is to your arthritis treatment. We’re here to help you break the cycle and find the nighttime peace you need.
Here’s our best advice on how to hit the hay when you have arthritis.
Arthritis refers to the swelling, irritation, and destruction of your joints. All of your joints have a slippery substance called cartilage that cushions your bones to keep them from grinding against each other. When that cartilage wears away or is damaged, you end up with stiff, painful joints.
There are many types of arthritis and each affects your joints differently. The most common kind is osteoarthritis. This occurs over the years as wear-and-tear breaks down the cartilage in your joints, typically in your knees, hands, hips, and spine.
No matter what’s causing your arthritis, sleep is one of the most important things you can do to find relief from pain.
Being awakened or kept awake by your arthritis pain is no way to live. Try these tips for better sleep:
This is especially important if you have osteoarthritis in your neck and spine. Sleeping with your spine in an unnatural alignment can put pressure on those already-irritated joints and cause more pain as you try to rest. Keep your head, neck, and spine in a straight line when reclining.
This can be difficult even for people without arthritis, but it’s even harder for people with damaged joints.
You want a pillow that keeps your body aligned in any position, not pillows that are too flat or overstuffed. Opt for cushions that mold to your head and neck if you sleep on your back or one that fills the space between your ear and the mattress if you’re a side-sleeper.
Unfortunately, your pain won’t go away with wishful thinking, so make sure you’re taking any pain medication as prescribed. Ask us about possibly taking mild painkillers at night.
You’re living with constant pain and you’re not sleeping well. That and the ebb and flow of daily life can put you under a mountain of stress. Employ coping strategies like breathing exercises or engage in a hobby to keep your stress under control and your body more apt to rest at night.
Exercise is good for your arthritis, and it can result in better sleep. You strengthen the muscles that support your joints while wearing yourself out for a long sleep at night. Start with 30 minutes of physical activity a day; we can help you figure out which exercises might be right for you.
Maybe you’re the type of person who had no trouble falling asleep before your arthritis developed. If you’ve never been intentional about your sleeping habits, now is the time to start.
Set a regular bedtime, make your bedroom dark and cool, ditch the caffeine, switch off your computers and phones before bed, and skip the late-night snack. All of these easy adjustments can have a huge impact on your body’s ability to wind down when you need it to.
Tired of feeling so tired? Then come see our experts to get the best arthritis treatment and guidance. If you have more questions or would like to get started with a consultation, call our office or schedule an appointment online.